After trying to distance itself from the Andrea Yates trial, National Organization for Women was back in the spotlight after the jury’s verdict (which this writer wholeheartedly agreed with) as Deborah Bell defended Yates and attacked the jury in the case.
According to an Associated Press story shortly after the verdict was announced,
But Bell, president of the Texas chapter of the National Organization for Women, said she was stunned at the conviction in light of so much evidence of mental illness.
She said Yates was “persecuted, not prosecuted,” and the verdict unveiled a need for public education, understanding and compassion about mental illness.
Leave it to NOW to want a reeducation campaign to make Americans better understand a woman who murdered her vie children and repeatedly said she knew what she was doing was wrong.
Bell is correct, however, about the need for a public education campaign, but that campaign needs to be about child and infant murderers.
The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta released a report in early March noting that homicide was the 15th-leading cause of infant deaths in the United States. Children have a greater risk of being murdered during their first year of life than at anytime until they reach the age of 17.
Oddly enough, unlike Yates, murderers of infants rarely spend much time in jail. Typical of such killers is Melissa Drexler. On June 6, 1997, she gave birth to a baby boy in the ladies room of a catering hall where her high school prom was being held. She suffocated the newborn infant, threw the body in a trash can and returned to the prom. Drexler was released after serving just barely over 3 years in jail.
Such short sentences for killing infants are typical. Were the fathers of these infants responsible for the vast majority of them, you can be sure that NOW would have a special campaign to crack down on such a lenient court system. But the reality is that 89 percent of the known killers of infants under one year of age were females — usually the mother. Which, of course, means NOW and other groups are simply uninterested.
The jury that convicted Yates did an important service by sending the message that as a society we will not tolerate the murder of children. The next step is to have an equally strong response to people who murder the most vulnerable members of society, infants. A woman who suffocates her newborn son and then goes to the prom should not be able to walk out of prison after only two to three years.
CDC: First year of life a dangerous one. Associated Press, March 8, 2002.
Verdict sparks passionate reactions. Associated Press, March 12, 2002.